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5 cricketers who started out as bowlers but became successful batsmen

Ayan Acharya
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Over the years, there have been numerous examples of cricketers who started out as bowlers but honed their batting ability with time and eventually became specialist batsmen for their sides. Often, young cricketers tend to be good at both disciplines and it takes them a bit of time to realise whether it is with the bat or the ball that they will truly succeed as cricketers.One such example is Steven Smith, who made his Test debut for Australia primarily as a leg spinner and batted at No.8. However, he realised that his bowling was not as consistent as is required at the highest level and his batting gradually started taking precedence, so much so that he has become the No.1 Test batsman in the world.Here are 5 players who started out as bowlers but became successful batsmen:

#1 Kevin Pietersen

In many ways, Kevin Pietersen is an antithesis to many stereotypes that have dogged English cricket over the years. Pietersen has managed to bypass the convention ever since he made his Test debut for England in that unforgettable 2005 Ashes triumph. Easily one of the most flamboyant English cricketers to have played the game, KP, with his swashbuckling approach and aggressive stroke-play, has tormented opposition bowlers across the world.

Known to be an entertainer at the crease, Pietersen has always banked on innovative shot-making to catch bowlers off-guard. The world caught a glimpse of his many talents when an ambidextrous KP peppered the boundary with two switch-hits that went for six in an ODI against New Zealand. A shot that has now become quite common among hard-hitting batsmen, KP’s proclivity for such new ideas has often been seen as a breath of fresh air in a team that occasionally struggles to keep up with the fluctuating demands of the sport.

A big-match player, Pietersen’s talent has come to the fore whenever England have been in rough waters. Be it pulling Brett Lee with utter disdain or shimming down the track to hit Shane Warne out of the park, the 2005 Ashes series was a heady start for Pietersen who was soon going to become the most sought-after player in English cricket.  

Another delectable display of his batting came during a Test match at Lord’s in 2011 when he plundered a double hundred against a hapless Indian attack. Throughout his marathon innings, he kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with some sensational hitting.

Not to mention his liking for extravagant shots which meant that T20 was a format tailor-made for him. No surprise then that Pietersen played a pivotal role in England’s triumph at the World T20 in 2010 and was adjudged the Player of the Tournament for his irresistible display with the bat.

With 8181 runs from 104 Tests, which include 23 centuries and 35 half-centuries, and 4440 runs from 136 ODIs with nine centuries and 25 half-centuries, there’s no doubting Pietersen’s abilities with the bat. He’s the kind of batsman who can win a match on his own, put bowlers to the sword at will and can be daunting even at the face of apparent defeat. 

In more than one way, he has been the perfect counterbalance to an English batting unit that has often been blamed for being too insipid in the shorter versions of the game.

Pietersen, who started his career as an off-spinner, fancies bowling spin now and then but has failed to match the standards that he has set for himself with the bat. He only has 17 wickets (10 in Tests, 7 in ODIs) from 240 international outings. Clearly, those figures don’t make for a very happy reading.


In light of the recent fallout between Pietersen and the ECB, the dashing batsman has been out of action for England and can only be seen playing T20 cricket sporadically. 

However, one could only hope that the misunderstandings between KP and the board cease to exist so that England could again avail the services of one of its most charismatic and immensely gifted cricketers. And with England trying to kick the shackles that dogged their World Cup campaign this year, Pietersen could prove to be an active catalyst to get things going. 

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Ayan Acharya
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